This has been quite a month. One that has seen some frustrating bad timing by life.


It started the first time I tried to take my daughter to an evening swimming lesson. With my schedule, doing something for and with my kids can be hard. Often I leave the house before they are awake, and return when they have already gone to bed.


On this day, I carved out some time for her. As we pulled up to the Rec Center, the phone rang. Community Corrections was on the line, and my assistance was needed for a kid in crisis. I handled it. I missed most of the lesson.


Not long after that, I carved out some time for another swimming lesson. As I was watching her joyously jump into the pool, the phone rang. This time it was a friend with a tip — there had been a bank robbery in town. I got on the phone to see what I could learn, and if police wanted my help putting out the description of a man not yet found. I missed the rest of the lesson.


Then came the next one, when I tried to take my son to a swimming lesson. An arrest — kind of big one. A guy in the Harvey County Jail arrested in a cold case involving multiple homicides in Oklahoma. I missed most of the lesson.


I've been missing some of oldest son's training days as he tries to run a 5K as well, but that's OK. We just keep plugging along as best we can and upping our run times as we do.


And, I have noticed lately, that there is some teaching going on when we go running.


On one day, I noticed he was struggling a bit. His shoes were well worn, we had missed a couple of days and he was laboring. I asked if we needed to stop and walk a little. He gave me a look.


That's when I started coaching, as only a parent can.


“Listen to your body. If you need a break, take one. Don't keep running because some timer or app tells you to, or because a coach tells you to. Listen to your body. Don't get hurt.”


I have to say, those are pretty wise words. But not as wise as some others that came out of my mouth just last week.


We were on our cooldown walk. For the first 2/3 of our workout, all was well. In the last third, he was tired. His legs felt heavy (and man, have I been there!) and he stopped to walk a couple of times during what was a fairly short timed run.


I sensed frustration. We had talked about a 5K coming up in May as possibly our first one, but it has become obvious that we will likely not be ready. That was weighing on his mind — along with the impending end of school and knowing when that happens one of his good buddies is moving away.


So I gave him some words. It was amazing to watch his reaction.


“God would not have given you the dream of running a 5K if could not do it. He doesn't work that way. He would not have given me you as an accountability partner if you could not be one. He doesn't do that, either.”


I explained that he can, and will, succeeded at both of those things. I explained what I meant by him being my partner. It is him that motivates me to get off the couch and on the trail, and that his dream of running that big race is what started all that.


He can choose to stop. He has free will. But what he wants is attainable, and he needs to know that. I could see him swell with pride at my words.


I don't have a solution for the phone ringing at inopportune times. I just know that those times it leaves me alone, I need to make the best of — for both myself and my kids.


— Chad Frey is managing editor of the Newton Kansan. He lives in Newton with his wife and three children.